QUOTE OF THE DAY
“You have to understand that I like Ted Cruz probably more than my colleagues like Ted Cruz, and I hate Ted Cruz.”
—Minnesota Senator Al Franken to USA Today on Tuesday. Franken was promoting his upcoming memoir, which apparently has an entire chapter dedicated to Cruz, titled “Sophistry,” in which Franken describes the Texas Senator as “singularly dishonest” and “exceptionally smarmy.”
The Texas House voted along party lines to pass a bill to change the controversial voter ID law on Tuesday, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Senate Bill 5 isn’t exactly the sweeping overhaul liberal lawmakers had in mind after a federal judge ruled last month that the state’s voter ID law was racially discriminatory. Democrats proposed thirty amendments aimed at weakening the Voter ID law, and after six hours of debate Tuesday the House ended up voting 95-54 in favor of passing SB 5, which gives registered voters the opportunity to use alternate forms of identification beyond a government-issued photo ID when casting their ballots at polling places. Republicans hailed SB 5 as a fix to Texas’s voter ID problems, claiming it improves access to polling places without jeopardizing the integrity of elections. Governor Greg Abbott declared on Sunday that SB 5 was an emergency priority in the Lege. Democrats were less enthusiastic, arguing that it’s more of the same stuff that got Texas in trouble with the feds in the first place. “We know voter ID hurts minorities,” Representative Eddie Rodriguez, a Democrat from Austin, said, according to the Statesman. “We don’t need it. The problem identified doesn’t exist. Most importantly, it makes it harder for Texans to vote.” It remains to be seen if SB 5 is enough to spare Texas from the looming threat of federal oversight over its elections. SB 5 is scheduled for a final House vote on Wednesday, before heading back to the Senate to consider changes made in the House.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
The Texas Senate seems primed to kill the bathroom bill passed by the Texas House on Sunday, so we’re still going to be talking about bathrooms for a while. According to the Texas Tribune, Senator Larry Taylor, a Republican from Friendswood, promised to reject the changes made in the House to his Senate Bill 2078, requesting the formation of a special committee to work out a compromise. Apparently Taylor thought the amendment to SB 2078 that targeted bathroom access for transgender students in public schools didn’t go far enough. “I heard it reported as a compromise, but it really doesn’t do anything,” Taylor said, according to the Tribune. But the amendment’s author, Republican state Representative Chris Paddie of Marshall, is sticking his guns and doesn’t seem particularly inclined to move forward on forming a special committee. “I don’t speak for the entire House, but I’d like to hear the reasons why before I say it’s something I think is necessary,” Paddie said, according to the Tribune. “I believe it accommodates all children and I believe that the House has taken a very thoughtful, reasonable approach to trying to address concerns that have been raised leading up to this session… I believe we did it in the right way.”
President Donald Trump’s new budget proposal sets aside $1.6 billion toward his promised border wall, but according to the Dallas Morning News that would only go so far—about 74 miles, to be specific. Trump’s 2018 budget would pay for just 60 miles of new barrier along the Texas-Mexico border, plus 14 miles of replaced fences near San Diego. Based on this budget, the math puts Trump about $48.5 billion short of what would be needed for the “big, beautiful wall” Trump has promised would stretch along the entirety of the U.S.-Mexico border. Still, the Trump administration seems optimistic. “We are absolutely dead serious about the wall,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on Tuesday after the proposed budget was released, according to the Morning News. But this specific spending plan for the wall may be a non-issue, given the fierce opposition from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to Trump’s budget. Texas Senator John Cornyn called the budget “dead on arrival,” according to NBC, adding that most presidential budgets fail in Congress anyway.
Outspoken Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller took to the online pages of the Texas Tribune on Wednesday to write an op-ed addressing a matter of utmost importance to his Texan constituents: barbecue. Miller led off his piece with a Bible verse (Proverbs 20:10), because barbecue is the official religion of Texas, obviously. He went on to challenge Governor Greg Abbott to veto a bill that would exempt barbecue joints from state inspections of the weights and scales they use to measure meat. According to Miller, the current inspection law “prevents any dishonest business owner from putting their thumb on the scale and ripping us off,” but that the Lege has instead “decided that everyone that runs a barbecue joint is as honest as the day is long.” Miller says that’s a mistake. “Horse hockey,” Miller writes. “As Ronald Reagan said, ‘Trust but verify.’ I trust my local barbecue guy, but I still want to see that when I buy a pound of sausage I’m getting a pound of sausage.” Miller clearly doesn’t mess around with his meat.
WHAT WE’RE READING
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Politifact finds Dan Patrick’s $20,000 tax savings claim “incorrect” and “ridiculous” Politifact Texas
State Representative Jonathan Stickland sounds very upset at Texas Observer reporters Texas Observer
The small town of Point Comfort is covered in red dust from a nearby Alcoa disposal pit Victoria Advocate
Denton County Sheriff Tracy Murphree “lit a social media firestorm” with his comments about the Manchester bombing Denton Record-Chronicle
An Austin store clerk apparently told a robber to “get a damn job” KXAN